Airport likely to keep world cargo traffic crown: FS

Airport likely to keep world cargo traffic crown: FS

Financial Secretary Paul Chan on Tuesday said Hong Kong is likely to remain the world’s busiest airport for cargo traffic, as it also eyes a full recovery in passenger numbers this year.

Speaking at the IATA World Cargo Symposium, Chan noted that Hong Kong International Airport (HKIA) handled around 4.3 million tonnes of cargo in 2023, which was 3 percent more than the year before.

“Just before the pandemic, HKIA connected to over 220 destinations with more than 1,100 flights per day. And we are recovering. At the end of last year, passenger throughput recovered to 80 percent of pre-pandemic levels. This year, we will see a full recovery, and we’re just getting going,” Chan said.

He added that the three-runway system, expected to be completed by the end of the year, will help boost the airport’s capacity to handle 120 million passengers and over 10 million tonnes of cargo per year by 2035.

The finance chief also said Hong Kong will further expand its aviation network with the mainland, while strengthening its air connectivity with nations under the Belt and Road Initiative.

“It will open up a larger hinterland and serve more passengers and cargo… By enhancing connectivity, we will help bolster trade in goods, enhance two-way flow of tourists and strengthen people-to-people bonds with the regions concerned,” he said.

Separately, Airport Authority chairman Jack So said efficiency has been improved at the cargo terminals through the use of 5G, robotics, and facial recognition technology.

He said the authority has also been working closely with cities in the Greater Bay Area to make the airport a cargo hub for the whole region.

“We have started to build a logistics centre in Dongguan where air cargo pallets can be shipped over water directly to the pier on the side of the airport and get on the flight, and we are thinking of doing the same on the western side in Zhuhai airport,” he said.

“This mode of water-air transport is cutting the costs by 50 percent and the time required by one-third.”

The three-day IATA World Cargo Symposium is being held in the city for the first time, with some 1,900 industry leaders and professionals attending the event at Asia-World Expo.

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